Chapter Seven: Reprise

It is that time again.

Time, that seems to bind everything, a tensile cord.

Not unlike the umbilical that detaches at birth.

Except in this case time stands still when life ceases .

Notions of past, present and future,

those neat convenient  categories of time we create

To  live and relive our memories

Sometimes in happiness, sometimes with nostalgia,

for things that are impossible to reclaim..

Tyranny the time.

“It was in another lifetime” she said. Then why does it feel like I am living it now?

 

“It was a long time ago” he began. But why does it feel like it happened just yesterday?

 

“It probably meant nothing” he said with his eyes downcast. It is a lie and I know it.

 

“It wasn’t meant to be” she continued, muttering forever under her breath. “I had plans and he had plans. And our plans had no room for the other.” Some things aren’t meant to be, or so I’ve come to believe. “There isn’t anything to it anymore. This is a futile conversation.” She faked a smile that spoke the truth. Then why do I fight to keep him out of my mind?

 

“I don’t remember much of it” he sighed. That’s because I tried so hard to forget.

 

“I’ve forgotten all about it until he showed up at my house.” Never realized how quickly memories come back alive when I thought I buried them deep down.

 

oOoOo

 

Lavanya’s eyes stayed on Khushi’s face, watching emotions run across her face. She averted her gaze from Lavanya but there was much to hide behind her set jaw. And she was finally talking about it, albeit after Lavanya’s repeated nagging.

 

Lavanya’s gaze didn’t miss the flush on Khushi’s face. There was an animation in her eyes, a life that refused to lay low in her. There was more to this story with Arnav Singh Raizada than what Khushi was letting on. She never talked about Arnav.

 

Never ever.

 

Well, there was that one day back then, in Delhi

 

It was rather an evening when Lavanya remembered Khushi huddled on her bed in their dorm room that they shared. All Lavanya could see was Khushi’s partially covered shoulders, facing the wall and sobbing silent tears. She had tried asking, but there was no response from Khushi. It was a strange radio silence from a friend who never ceased talking or sharing everything. It was as if there was a line and Lavanya couldn’t cross it. So she never pushed Khushi to talk about it either.

 

Until now.  

 

Lavanya sighed a contented sigh, continuing to watch Khushi with an insistent gaze. The late evening summer sun brought orange shadows. Both sat on the sidewalk licking their ice cream cones.

 

“So, there isn’t anything to it then?” Lavanya asked, in an innocuous tone in encouragement.

 

“Nope, nothing to it.” Paying singular attention to her waffle cone, Khushi replied.

 

“Did you text him back?”

 

Khushi whipped her head to look at Lavanya in surprise. “That was a while ago Lav” she said.

 

“I know. So, did you reply?” Lavanya persisted.

 

Looking down at her whittled down ice cream cone, Khushi shook her head.

 

“Why not?” Lavanya doggedly pursued.

 

Continuing to lick her waffle, Khushi shrugged. She had written and deleted her texts to Arnav so many times that even a ‘hello’ seemed way too complicated for Khushi. She didn’t want to delve into it any more.

 

Lavanya poked her hand into Khushi’s open handbag, quickly fished out her cellphone and extended it to her. “Here, text him” she said. “I’ll even help you write it” she offered with a wicked smile. “Hmm, let me see” she began scrolling through Khushi’s cell phone for the messaging tool. “Where is his message? Ah here..”

 

“No!” Khushi grabbed her phone from Lavanya’s hands with surprising strength and dropped it into her handbag.

 

“But if there is nothing to it, like you say, then what’s the harm in texting him Khush?”

 

Khushi got up from the sidewalk to throw the last few pieces of the cone, garnering a few minutes for herself before she faced Lavanya’s resolute questions. Yes, if there was nothing to it, why does she feel paralyzed to respond?

 

Returning to sit next to Lavanya again, Khushi took her cell phone out and gazed at the blank screen. In low tones she said, “Because…,” stopped and sighed. She looked everywhere except her phone or Lavanya, letting the movement of her eyes garner a few moments of thought to herself. Biting the inside of her cheek absently, she continued, “Because, it’s too hard.” Raising her gaze to meet Lavanya’s, she whispered raggedly, “It’s too complicated.” She continued to look at Lavanya as if seeking answers, seeking strength. Silence reigned that moment between these two friends.

 

“I wanted to… I tried so many times… but…” she paused, searching for words, feeling exposed. But the twilight and the public sidewalk provided a sense of security to say things to her best friend, things she couldn’t tell herself.

 

She looked down at her cell phone, her fingers caressing the screen, wishing, willing the cold instrument to come to life. She felt an arm go around her shoulders, Lavanya’s strength seeping into her war-weary muscles. A hug from Lavanya was a panacea for her. Resting her head on her friend’s shoulder, Khushi raised her fingers to her neck, holding the ring without conscious thought as she ran her fingers over the ring repeatedly. There were so many what-ifs and but-what-abouts swirling with half-formulated opinions and sentiments that yielded a paralysis. She drew in a ragged breath and began reciting the alphabet backward.

 

z, y, x, w, v, u, t,…

 

A few quiet moments later, Khushi drew a resolute breath and straightened. “I am going to text him back” she said to no one in particular. Perhaps it was more to herself than for anyone else. “Yes, I am.” She turned to look at Lavanya, searching and seeking for any signs of disinclination or doubt, but finding nothing except warmth and love.

 

“Because I want to, Lav.” There! Fear surfaced again that everything was now in the open. Khushi asked “Can I? Is it okay? Lav?”

 

“Yes it is.” Unequivocally Lavanya urged.

 

A few more silent seconds passed when Khushi’s fingers sprang to life on her cell phone as she wrote her text message. At the same time, Lavanya noticed that her friend’s face was suffused with color and a lopsided smile began to unfurl. A reciprocal smile drew Lavanya’s dimples to the fore and she heaved a sigh of relief. Khushi will be fine, one day, soon, Lavanya knew for sure now.

 

oOoOoOoOoOoOo

 

Balmy cool breeze blew through Arnav’s car window. It was late in the night and Maya refused to leave until he promised to talk about the Khushi. Driving through the now silent streets of Delhi, one would be hard pressed to believe that the same roads clogged like those veins he worked on as a cardiologist. Delhi roads and clogged veins…funny, thought Arnav. A smile sprang forth on his face. Looking sideways to Maya’s profile, he saw that she was busy with her phone, a frown between her brows.

 

“All okay?” he asked. His eyes slid to his own phone which now lay silent on the dashboard.

 

Still no message. Perhaps there will never be one.

 

“Hm.. yes. It’s from my lab.” Maya mumbled, still busy typing on her phone. “And no, I don’t want to go home now, let’s get a cup of chai before you drop me home?”

 

“I haven’t forgotten.” Giving a quick glance at Maya, Arnav shook his head. She does not forget easily. He wondered why he put up with her.

 

“But I don’t remember much of it” he warned, knowing full well that it was a useless caveat.

 

A little while later they sat in silence in the darkness of his car, holding their hot tea cups with steam curling. Maya turned in her seat and tilted her head to one side and gave Arnav a steady look.

 

“You haven’t forgotten. I don’t think you’ve forgotten at all” she countered.

 

A quick frown sat on his brow and a muscle clenched in his jaw. He wanted to refute. He did try to forget and he did.

 

“There isn’t much to say Maya. It was a very long time ago and that is that.” He looked out of the window.

 

Why do people drink hot tea in the middle of summer? Looking down into his tea cup, he sniffed the strong combination of cardamom and ginger. He was almost done with his, he drank the last of his tea in a gulp and set his cup on the dashboard.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me about…” He paused with a frown, surprised to hear the question that simmered within him.

 

“Tell you what?” Maya asked, puzzled.

 

“About the… you know… the time when I had that gunshot?”

 

“You mean, about the time when you kept saying her name?” Maya’s eyes bore into Arnav’s without any hint of hesitation or doubt.

 

He couldn’t hold her direct gaze anymore. He had to look away and he did. He wasn’t hurt or upset, he was sure of it. He wondered why he was pursuing this line of questions if he wasn’t upset?

 

He sighed noisily and nodded, making a brief eye contact. “I just want to know why that never came up.” Before she could answer, he shook his head and said, “You know what, just ignore it.” He looked out of his window and shook his head again, “It wasn’t important.” Not even a second later, he repeated, more to himself, “It isn’t important.” It really wasn’t and Arnav Singh Raizada was not one to rake his past over hot coals. It was an unnecessary and futile exercise that reaped benefits to no one. All it did was leave ashes and splinters, left everyone with a bruised heart.

 

Coward his conscience poked him. Perhaps there was an element of truth in there, but the feeling of being trapped left him no choice but to decry his question. He muttered under his breath, “It really isn’t important.”

 

Maya pulled his shoulder towards herself with her palm so he was facing her across the gear shift. “Because you never said anything before or after that event. It was like it never happened. You know?” Maya’s widened eyes, guileless as ever. But she quickly raised a pointed eyebrow, “So, did it mean something? Then?”  

 

Arnav didn’t have an answer for Maya at that moment. He remained still in his silence, wondering how he found himself in that moment, caught in the twilight of reviving  his past into his present, with a woman who was not only his friend, but his ex-wife as well. Maya’s nudge brought him back from his internal dialog and he gave her a small smile. “It really isn’t important Maya.” He brought her palm into his own and squeezed her fingers.

 

“I didn’t mean to make you angry.” Maya said quietly. “I want you to be happy. I want you to seek happiness.”

 

Seek happiness? Seek Khushi?

 

Arnav looked up quickly to see if Maya was joking. All he saw in her eyes was earnestness.

 

They continued to look at each other until both burst out laughing at her unintended pun.

 

“See” Maya pointed her finger at Arnav and shook it under his nose, “It is meant to be, Arnav.”

 

“You are a silly goofball” Arnav chuckled quietly, shaking his head. He went back to his teacup on the dash, but found his cup empty. He sighed deeply as he placed his cup back  where it was. This walk down memory lane was turning out to be more than he bargained for.

 

“What happened Arnav?”

 

Arnav leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

 

Did he want to do this now?

 

He was so used to pushing his errant thoughts away, not deliberately bring them to fore. He was used to quelling his memories of her, not questing them.

 

How long had it been, his heart willed the question. Thirteen years since his mind supplied.  Time had certainly marched on for both of them.  She chose to travel a different route and so did he. They both made their lives with different people.

 

But that one week when their paths crossed and the time they spent with each other was indelibly etched in him.

 

“I was visiting Akash during one of our summer breaks. He couldn’t take time off and so he invited me to stay with him in his hostel. Nani was away from home at that time, I don’t really remember why. But she didn’t want me to spend my vacation alone in Shantivan. And Akash insisted that I visit him.” His eyes seemed focused on the ceiling of the car. “I met her when she was an undergrad at IIT Delhi.” His staccato tone belied the enormity of his admission.

 

“They were a gang. All three of them – Akash, Lavanya and Khushi. Where one went, the rest followed.” He turned to look at Maya and said, “That’s how I met her.”

 

“Then?” Maya gently urged.

 

“Then.. nothing really. She and I… er .. Well, we spent time together, knowing full well that nothing could come out of it. Then she went her way and I mine. I left Delhi.”

 

Four days and four nights, they had with each other. Stolen moments they were. An unexpected tryst it was.

 

“Where? What do you mean you spent time together? With all three of them?”

 

A flash crossed his face. Maya would have missed it, if she wasn’t looking closely at him. But she didn’t miss it. This was difficult for Arnav. She could see it in the way his jaw clenched and unclenched as he spoke. She could see it in the way his Adam’s apple bobbed when he swallowed as he spoke and his whitened knuckles on his steering wheel.

 

He slowly shook his head. “No, just her. And me. Together.” He was unwilling to say more. Maya could tell. But he said more in those few phrases than he had in the entire evening.  

 

He looked like he was in pain. She couldn’t see him like this, her gentle giant. She reached her hand across the gear shift to hold his free hand tightly.

 

Surprised at her tight grip, Arnav looked at their entwined hands and then at Maya. “It was a long time ago. It’s okay.”

 

Maya pulled their hands so that she could hug him. He wasn’t sure if he was consoling her or was being consoled.

 

“I am sorry Arnav.” Maya whispered into his shoulder. “I am.”

 

Arnav stilled in her arms and pulled back with his arms loosely around her. “What are you sorry for Pix? There is nothing to be sorry for, I told you that it was a very long time ago.”

 

He used to call her Pix when they were together. It was his allusion to her size and it was a running joke among their group of friends that while her physical stature was diminutive, nothing else about her was. He had quit calling her that when he got to know of her feelings for Kailash.

 

“You know what I mean, I am just sorry that it makes you…” she said, waving her arms to point to him. “Like this, sad.”  She sat back in her seat. “It cannot be that long ago if it affects you like how I see it do. Time has nothing to do with it Arnav. You of all people should know that.”

 

This was the second time in an evening that she surprised him. First when she spoke of Khushi at the time of his shooting and now this. “It doesn’t affect me Pix. I was just feeling sad that she lost her husband so young. They were married and have a child. That’s all.”

 

Yes, that was all. But why doesn’t it feel like that inside? What else could there be, after all these years?

 

“So, you said that you met her this time when you were there in the US. What happened?”

 

Memories of an eight year old with her dimpled smile brought an answering smile to Arnav’s face.

 

“I asked Akash for her address. I showed up at her house.” The smile deepened on his face. “She was shocked to find me at her doorstep.” A slow chuckle escaped his lips. “She didn’t recognize me at all.”

 

“Have you changed all that much?” A furrow appeared on Maya’s brow. She shook her head and said, “I don’t think you’ve changed much at all.”

 

“I don’t think it has to do with me changing physically, Maya. I think it has to do with the fact that she didn’t expect me, me of all people to show up at her doorstep. That must have been a shock.”

 

“And?” Maya’s insistence was notorious.

 

Arnav was reminded of Mohan’s little “um-s” during their nightly story telling sessions. His little prompts kept the story going longer than Arnav wanted.

“And? I am not telling you a story.” He quickly retorted.

 

“Ah, but this is such a nice story. I would love to know more. And if you won’t continue, I’ll just have to … ” Suddenly remembering something that Arnav mentioned a few minutes ago, Maya continued her questions.

 

“So, you said she had a child? How old, girl or a boy?”

 

The mother in her was curious. She guessed all mothers had the same kind of curiosity, curiosity about children.

 

“You are incorrigible and shameless. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.”

 

Maya grinned in response and raised her eyebrows to Arnav as if asking him to continue with his story.

 

“Alright. Khushi has a daughter, Mira. She is eight years old and is a …” he paused trying to find ways of describing that little girl who seemed to have gotten under his skin.

 

“She has dimples on her face that could beat the depths of Grand Canyon and a bright smile that makes her eyes sparkle” he continued with a smile.

 

“It was so sad to hear her talk about her Appa’s death.” He now looked at Maya, all traces of laughter and smile vanished from his face. With a somber look, he said “Appa, that’s how she addresses her papa.”

 

Maya nodded in response. Both adults looked out of their windows in the car.

 

“And… NK’s mother was visiting Khushi and Mira. I met her too. Three generations of loss and grief in that household, Maya.”  Arnav took a shaky breath in, his own emotions rattled, evident in his succinct statement.

 

A sudden whirr of his phone brought both of them back to the moment. The phone was face down and it whirred again, its vibration moving the phone on the dashboard.

 

Frozen, Arnav stared at the phone, debating if he should pick it up.

 

What if it wasn’t what he was looking for?

 

He didn’t want to feel disappointed every time the phone beeped with a message.

 

“Aren’t you going to check?” Maya asked, looking at the phone.

 

“It’s probably Nani, asking if I am back.”

 

“Arnav, Nani never texts. She calls. Don’t you want to see who is trying to reach you?” Maya looked at her watch, noting the lateness of the hour. “At this hour?”

 

Arnav was reminded of his own watch on his wrist. “It is after midnight! Let me drop you home. Don’t you have an early shift tomorrow?” Arnav made quick motions to start the car.

 

“Will you just check that damned phone already?” Maya demanded loudly.

 

“Tsk tsk, remember curiosity killed the cat?”

 

“And cats have nine lives.”

 

“Nope, the correct response is, and satisfaction brought it back” laughed Arnav. He started his car and began driving to Maya’s apartment. He knew that she was peeved with his refusal to check his phone. And he wouldn’t put it past her to pick that phone up and check it for herself.

 

“Arnav Singh Raizada” Maya protested loudly, with her hand reaching to his phone. “If you don’t check it, then I will.”

 

With his one hand on the steering, he grabbed his phone with his other. “Maya Vallabh Singh!” Now he was openly laughing at her. “How old are you?” He teased.

 

“I hate you.” Maya grunted and looked out of the window, muttering softly under her breath.

 

“No, you don’t. And hate is such a strong word.” This was an oft repeated conversation between the two. Both fell silent with their easy camaraderie.

 

Another whirr of Arnav’s phone bespoke of another message. Before he could put his phone in his pocket, another beep marked the arrival of yet another text.

 

“It must be from that Khushi Gupta. That’s why you don’t want to check the phone with me in the car.” Maya declared with a knowing smile.

 

“Maya, nothing you say is going to make me tell you who that message is from. So stop it.” Arnav’s voice brooked no room for argument.

 

Maya turned and leaned against her door and said in a sing-song voice, “Arnav and Khush…shee.. Sitting on a tree….” She paused for effect and then said laughingly, “K.I.S.S.I.N.G.”

 

That immediately brought a shout of laughter from Arnav. He shook his head and replied, “Really? What are you? In second grade?”

 

He pulled his car into Visitors’ lot and waited for Maya to unbuckle herself. “Good night Pix.”

 

“So, you aren’t going to tell me who that message is from?” Still tenacious, Maya asked Arnav again.

 

“I don’t think it’s from Khushi. If she was going to text me, she would have done so a while ago. But she didn’t.” He looked out of his window to rearrange his expression to not reveal anything more to Maya.

 

“There really isn’t anything there Maya. It was such a long time ago. So… now, get out of my car so I can go home and go to bed.” A small smile resumed its presence on his face.

 

Maya leaned across the gear shift and grabbed his neck for a tight hug. She whispered into his shoulder, “I just want you to be happy… like I am.. I wish..”

 

“I am happy Maya.” Arnav reassured her with a squeeze. “Now get back into the house before that husband of yours comes looking for you.”

 

Maya got out of the car and began walking towards the building. But she turned immediately and ran towards Arnav’s car and tapped on his window. “I hope that message is from Khushi.”  Saying that, she turned and quickly walked into the building.

 

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

 

It was a long day for Arnav, it certainly felt longer than it was. He checked on Mohan on his way up the stairs to his room, making sure his baby monitor was still functional. Mohan slept in a smaller bedroom right next to Arnav’s. The baby monitor helped Arnav more than Mohan.

 

The whirr of the small fan in the corner to create white noise mingled softly with the hum of the air conditioner. And there he was, on his back, arms and legs spread eagled like a starfish. In his hand was the Lego plane he probably had been clutching as he fell asleep. Except now Mohan’s fingers were loose with the plane resting precariously, half on his pillow and half on the sheet that covered him.

 

How could a little body occupy the entire bed, wondered Arnav. A small smile hovered on the corners of his lips, he smoothed his hand over Mohan’s curls, making sure his touch was almost imperceptible. Arnav pulled the sheet over his little body and tucked the edges in and smoothed out folds and wrinkles, remembering the ‘sheet not proply, Papa’ of his son’s demand. His son’s lisp just made the demand all that more important.

 

‘Sheet properly now my darling. Sleep well my baby” Arnav whispered into the night and closed the door softly.

 

Finally ensconced in his bed, he pushed his arms behind his head and got ready to sleep. Then as if he remembered something, he reached for his cell phone to finally check for the messages he refused to check earlier. Funny woman, his ex-wife, he thought. She always brought a smile on his face. An unabashed romantic she was too; had too much faith in people.

 

Arnav’s fingers quickly scrolled through his phone and he stilled at the sight of a name. His heart picked up pace and he found himself sitting up on his bed.

 

Hello Arnav, sorry for taking so long to write to you. Thank you for remembering that I asked you to text me when you reached home. I should have responded sooner… I am sorry. Hope all is well with you.

 

He read the message again and again. She sent this just a little while ago. It was her message that came through in the car then. His mind was on an overdrive trying to figure out all possible meanings of her text. He read the text again. He noted that she addressed him by his name, not by his initials, like she did when she first met him in Delhi.

 

What did she mean, she should have responded sooner? Why didn’t she?

 

All at once, Arnav realized that he was acting like a teenager. She was being polite, that’s all. Why was his heart pounding?

 

He scrolled to find two more messages from her… the last one was just a few minutes ago.

 

All of us are preparing for our trip to India, read that as shopping. So, Mira has asked me to check with you if there is any toy in particular that Mohan does NOT like.

 

So…will you text me back?

 

He remembered that they were making a trip here. If his heart beat any faster, it was going to seize. Excitement coursed through his body, while his mind cautioned his errant heart.

 

Oh, we will be there in Delhi in a week. So, we are in a kind of a rush shopping for things and packing.

 

That was the last message. He couldn’t stop his face from smiling.

 

Hello Khushi. Nice to hear from you. Finally! I wondered about your silence. And no, there is nothing that Mohan does not like. He is particularly fond of Legos. But please don’t stand on formality and get gifts.

 

Should he say more? Should he offer to pick her up from the airport? He hit send.

 

It was late and he really should get some sleep. Though he was not scheduled for surgery, he needed to have all his wits and marbles with him during his clinic rounds.

 

Placing the phone back on his nightstand, he settled back on his pillows, his left arm tucked under his head. He closed his eyes and realized that he was still smiling. He really should keep a check on his wayward emotions and not allow himself to spin out of control. But evoking his sidelined memories had brought all those feelings to fore that he had reined in.

 

A ping on his phone refused to let him sleep. It must be Khushi again, he thought. Who would text in the middle of the night here in India?

 

Was it Khushi? If you lie, you will rot – M.

 

Yes it was. Now, go to sleep – A.

 

He counted to seven, and there was another ping.

 

Woo hoo. Arnav and Khush…sheee… Sitting on a tree… Am very happy for you. Good night – M.

 

Shaking his head at the phone, he dropped it on the bed and closed his eyes. Sleep was a long ways off for Arnav.

 

A soft whirr woke him up.

 

It isn’t formality when the gift is meant for a child. Would it be formality if the gift was for you?

 

He shook his head at the phone. Was she flirting with him? How was he supposed to respond to that? Before he could type anything, there was another message from Khushi.

 

It is probably very late for you. Sorry for intruding on your sleep. Good night.

 

To hell with his sleep. His fingers flew over the phone, typing his message.

 

If the gift came from the right place, there is no place for formality. It depends on the giver of the gift. 🙂

 

However, there is that one meal you promised me. That has to happen, irrespective of the rules of formalities.

 

Ah ha.. he felt better with his response. Another thought made him reach for his cell phone again.

 

Give me your flight details. I can pick up your Buaji from her home and can bring her to the airport to receive you. It will not be a bother, so don’t hesitate.

 

There, the ball was in her court now. He raised himself to lean on the headboard and wondered if she would respond. It was late, he noted, very late. He really should sleep.

 

With a smile on his lips, Arnav Singh Raizada fell into a deep sleep after many years.

 

Life was beginning to feel better.

 

oOoOo

 

148 thoughts on “Chapter Seven: Reprise

    1. I would be forever grateful to Lavanya & Maya for urging the protagonists to speak about their past. They put me out of my misery, albeit, only a bit. Woh kehte hain naa doobte ko tinke ka sahara.

      Loved the parallelism in their narration. If it’s all in the past, if it was a long time ago and if it probably means nothing, then why do they find it so difficult to talk about it? If it was that unimportant, why did Arnav have to say so four times? Who was he trying to convince? Him or Maya? Their reluctance to think about their time spent together, let alone sharing it with their besties is proof in itself that their “means nothing” actually means a lot more than “just something”.

      Maya & Lavanya’s prodding may not have gotten them to reveal much about the past, but the conversation forced them to confront themselves with their own thoughts. “He was used to quelling his memories of her, not questing them”. Hopefully talking to Maya will help him understand his feelings better. Same with Khushi. She wanted to reach out to Arnav as much as he did, but she wasn’t sure whether it was morally right. I wonder whether it would have helped Khushi decide if she knew how desperate Arnav was to hear from her and that it was her name he cried out repeatedly when he was losing consciousness? Lavanya’s one gesture of affirmation was all that she needed to send the string of messages. Khushi becomes a different person when Arnav is around, even if it’s just in a conversation. Manorma had noticed it before, and Lavanya has seen the transformation right in front of her. It took all but one decision to text him that brought the color and lopsided smile back to Khushi’s face. Khushi WILL be fine, and that one day looks closer than ever!

      For a person who was clinging to his phone waiting for Khushi’s text, Arnav forgot about the multiple beeps on the phone. I was virtually poking him to check his phone. He forgot all about the beeps until he got to his bed. Had he completely given up on hearing back from Khushi? It made me feel so sad for him. But not for long 😁 Loved Khushi’s texts. Once she made the decision to text him, she didn’t hold back. And it was just the bait Arnav was waiting for. “If his heart beat any faster, it was going to seize” The cardiologist who has no control over his heart. Irony much? I like how he offered to bring her Buaji to airport instead of showing up alone. Smart guy! In a way accha hua that he didn’t check his messages with Maya around. He may not have been able to express his happiness and excitement in her presence.

      It’s about time these two meet and start off from where they left. Or if not that, create new beginnings and new memories. 13 years is not too long when you compare it to rest of your life.

      P.S1. – “Curiosity killed the cat…and satisfaction brought it back” – Loved it. I’m going to use it very soon in AD
      P.S.2 – I sleep exactly like Mohan 😊, sans the Lego. Hubby dear has to make do with whatever limited space that’s left for him

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              1. Khoosie bitiya considering she was sleeping with a man for the first time, was extremely comfortable😁
                Hamari itni jurrat ki hum lakshman maaf kijhiye Arnav rekha paar kare😂🤣
                Now its time for kijhy bitiya to get out!!!

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      1. Maya & Lavanya’s prodding may not have gotten them to reveal much about the past, but the conversation forced them to confront themselves with their own thoughts
        but that they did not reveal much in itself reveals so much, haina?

        Liked by 4 people

        1. The first three chapters says ten years/decade, hence the question. I apologize I get caught up with small details at times, I know ten years/decade doesn’t have to be exactly ten years and it could just mean a general range of years😄
          Plus something from the first outing of the story has remained in my mind, always, which is not here, that has also added to the whole time saga!

          Liked by 2 people

              1. Ah first time out is no longer relevant. The story is undergoing change (REwrite). So it’s probably a good idea and will be a lot less confusing for the readers to treat this version as is. 🙂 💕

                Liked by 3 people

    1. An innate understanding of the other, a recognition of sorts (I can guess at one reason that is so, but why give out farreys!). That’s why they have remained in the other, even if locked away, allowing the passage of time to remove those memories, helped on by the discovery of love, forging of relationships, and bringing new life into this world. But remained they have and all it took was one meeting, the cords that bound the chests have eased off, the tops are opening up, allowing memories to escape…
      One feels the weight of the unsaid in the few words that they spoke, of that time. Prodded on by friends who want the best for them. I’m still sort of bewildered by the relationship that Arnav and Maya share, I wonder what it must have taken to hold on to that friendship. Which shows itself in that “pix” one he had stopped using once she got married, but in a state of emotional turmoil (?) comes out again.
      “Three generations of loss and grief in that household, Maya.” That line has stayed with me from the first time I read it, was waiting for it to make its appearance. Why do I feel he has always (or from a certain point in his life) had this core of sadness/loneliness in him, one he has successfully managed to mask, and events down the years have only added to that. My heart broke at that “Sheet properly now my darling. Sleep well my baby”, a man who has had to be a father and a mother to his little boy, one who has not allowed bitterness to touch himself. And she seemed to have recognized that, it made its presence known in those questions that came up in her head; “Why? But what about you?” and verbalized as “Are you okay?”

      Liked by 9 people

      1. It would have been difficult to understand the dynamics between Arnav & Maya, but I know a couple who share the exact same relation. They were childhood friends, then became lovers, married, divorced after 8 years and are still best friends. I haven’t seen any couple so in tune with each other, yet here they are. When asked how can they stay friends after all the ordeal, her response is they were much better friends than spouses. They both look out for each other and even give relationship suggestions rolls eyes. One thing she said has always stayed with me – It’s better to ampute a part than let the poison spread through the entire body. It wasn’t easy to come to that decision, but they never were so happy as they are now.

        Liked by 8 people

        1. I’m glad to hear that Gauri. One reason I feel I’m bewildered is because we are so used to seeing marriages that last, whether they are happy or not is besides the point, but you carry on, so I don’t have any experience of seeing anybody like this, unlike you. The divorced couples I know are not really on good terms, so there is no reference point I guess. I think the difference is that friendship, that they were good friends before becoming anything else and wanted to preserve that. Really admirable, and I feel it takes a certain level of maturity too.

          Liked by 6 people

          1. I think you are absolutely right. The difference is the understanding & maturity they share which could have come only from having such a beautiful life-long friendship. And this is rare, I agree. There are few others I know who are more miserable now than they were when married.

            Liked by 6 people

            1. It takes certain kind of persons to be able to reach such a point where they are able to see and put the other person’s happiness first. To appreciate and value the friendship and not to let bitterness touch that. I do think it is rare Gauri. Most often you see folk been bitter.

              Liked by 7 people

        2. It’s probably what they look beyond normal and obviously able to identify the true happiness. Agreed I have not seen any and sounds perfect in theory but sure it’s not as easy as that in reality they have to work every single day. Kudos to them!

          Liked by 4 people

      2. “Three generations of loss and grief in that household, Maya.”
        That line touched me too. Why do we hurt when a person we loved hurts? It’s so obvious that the bonds of love aren’t linear. The affection and care don’t go away just because the recipient is no longer in touch of us. Isn’t that way we keep all the people who once meant something to us in our thoughts, include them in our prayers?
        That Arnav is so affected by Khushi’s loss is a testament to the feelings he harbored for her. What’re thirteen years? A speck of dust 🙂

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Mira,
      I love Lavanya has. These three were inseparable before and have gone to being soul mates now. I am sure that friendship like these can count as soul mates.
      Maya and Arnav- Their friendship beats their relation as spouse and it is clearly seen here. Despite having divorced both of them have kept relation which is enviable to many married couple. Maya for sure is the child there. I was so waiting for this Arnav and Khusheeee on treeeee from Maya…. lol

      Khushi- Her self musing for not sending text, her hesitation, her confusion is all so real. She touching Narens ring whenever she wants that courage; shows how her relation with Naren was when he was alive.
      Arnav- the glimpse of a carefree man when with Maya is so endearing. The always so composed ASRs dhakdhak and acidity going up with mere text messages and the start of flirting in text is like a fresh breath in the middle of the night. This is first of many mores to come.
      The father in him although takes the cup. He caring for the ocdness of his child to him feeling sorry for that dimpled girl and getting attached to her is soothing.

      Their back story 4 days and 4 nights and yet it will be 4 years in Mira’s timeline till we know the full truth😜

      A shout out for the quote of this update Mira.
      Can’t wait for another update.

      Ami

      Liked by 5 people

  1. MB, yes , I agree with Arnav……l as a reader feeling much better since you started writing again…😊😊
    I have always liked Maya – Arnav camaraderie. You have to be 100% honest to build and enjoy that kinda bond. I really love some of my friends who are brutally honest. No veil of formalities.

    Enjoying the story and greedily waiting for more.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I officially love Maya. Arnav and Maya’s bond after the divorce should be an example to other divorced couple, it will make parenting so easily if a child is involved.
    Arnav and Khushi are like teenagers and their crush.

    I can’t wait for khushi and family to reach India.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The tone of uncertainity and avoidance at the beginning swiftly changing towards determination and acceptance at the end made reading this chapter feel like a breezy journey of sorts!
    The camaradrie between both sets of friends along with the exchange of texts were definitely the highlight of this ‘journey’!
    Kudos! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Are we not lucky to have people in our lives who understand the unsaid, who prod us to face our fears, who accept us as we are and with whom we can be ourselves with no pretenses. This is how I would describe Lavanya friendship with Khushi. She is lucky to have her in her life.
    So it was really s very short interaction between the two decade or more ago but still left an impression on both of them. Look forward to their journey. It will be a journey as Naren death is only 14/15 months old. She is trying and I am glad she finally did reach out to him 😘

    Ps. Khushi good with dates thought she met Arnav 10 years ago. He thinks 13 years. One of them is off…I guess.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hey, MB is revising the story and so the time frame has been changed to 13 from 10. I had the same question! And NK’s death is around 19 months ago I think, the exact period is there in the early chapters.
      “Are we not lucky to have people in our lives who understand the unsaid, who prod us to face our fears, who accept us as we are and with whom we can be ourselves with no pretenses.” So so right, probably the biggest blessing one can have in life.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. It’s mentioned 10 years in the early chapters, but MB has decided to revise it to 13, its just that the earlier chapters are not corrected as yet. There are somethings that I remember from when I first read it so I had asked her about the difference😁
          And yes she counted the number of days too.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Wonderful Update

    Both Arnav and Khushi were trying to convince themselves that there is nothing important which happened between them decade back with Maya and Lavanya. Loved the parallel narration of their past from their own words. Finally, with Lavanya’s encouragement, Khushi texted Arnav and with the way, Lavanya saw the smile on her friend’s face she knew everything will be fine in her friend’s life soon. It was surprising to see the comrade between a divorced couple. Never came across as such a couple. Maya pushing Arnav to talk about his relationship with Khushi and wanting to see him happy as she is is Amazing. The person who keeps checking for Khushi’s message, when she does Arnav has to feign as if it is not from her and finally gets happy seeing the texts from the person he was eagerly waiting for. Loved their text convo. Now waiting for Khushi and little Mira to reach Delhi.

    Eager for the next one

    Thanks
    Chinnulu

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hello my dear friends and readers!

    I know there is a bit of a conversation going on about the time, especially ten years.. ☺️ Now, remember, I am changing the story – that is the REwrite part of this re-publishing the story.

    Here is what we know so far:
    1. I started the story with a date
    2. I did mention how old Khush was when Arnav and Khushi met
    3. Arnav guesses Nk’s demise, but Khushi actually counts the months days since his death
    4. Khushi makes an incorrect assessment of the time that passed between their meeting (Arnav and Khushi) and Arnav corrects her
    5. In all other instances there is a “more than ten years” mentioned.
    6. Arnav actually mentions that it has been thirteen years…

    I thought I should try to set the record straight.

    It is thirteen years since Arnav and Khushi met. – This you should take as a given in this version. And if you are seriously trying to remember what I wrote previously, then I am going to say – don’t.

    This is the story I am writing and this is what I want to stick to. So…

    Since we are here talking about past, years, and time passed – I want to drop a short line and say – we don’t store memories in a linear fashion. We don’t live our lives in a perfect flash-back. We don’t stop living now when we recall our past. I believe that past and present are intertwined… and I hope to evoke the same sense in my storytelling as well.

    Well, this is probably the only time where I show up and make a note about the story. And I hope this allays our confusion about ten years. Capishe?

    If I haven’t said this before – I will say it now. I am so grateful for your attention, your readership and your interest. I look forward to your comments… I love your comments, your thoughts. Thank you!

    –MB

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Capishe!
      And I apologize for harping on this whole 10/13 years. Kya kari, sometimes when a keeda gets into your head its difficult to get it out. I’m the kind who finds it difficult to get my head around small stuff, to just let it go. Far too much attention to detail is also not good…

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Wow loved it! I am as much at peace as Arnav when Khushi finally replies 😅 because that ought to get the ball rolling 😀 looking forward to next time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. MiraJi, Wonderful update. Arnav and Khushi opened up at the insistence of Maya and Lavanya.
    How did Arshi end up with each other for 4 days and 4 nights when they were supposed to be spending time with the gang? 13 years ago kuch curfew laga tha kya? Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho gaye the aur chabhi bhi kho gayi thi?
    Now I want to know the back story of Maya and Arnav. That sounds more interesting. Khushi and Arnav will live Hamesha. That we can read for the rest of our lives.
    A wife and husband can be friends but friends can not be wife and husband. Very interesting notion.
    As someone said, may be it is true that in a separation, one always blame the other for the problem. If someone admits their short comings and willingly leaves the other to live their life, that will be wonderful. If that is the case with Arnav and Maya, I would like to know who the noble one is?
    Arnav and Khushi 13 years later, warming up to each other. Hope Mohan and Mira will like each other too!
    Is Maya feeling guilty? Is that why she is insisting to know more about Khushi and insisting Arnav to pursue Khushi? If everything else remained the same and NK is also alive, would Maya have revealed the fact that Arnav constantly took Khushi’s name while he was fighting for his life after getting shot?
    Cheers…….

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Finally a glimpse into their decade back relation or affair or whatever.. A week of togetherness has given them memories of a life time.. Perhaps the power of first love
    Arnav and kushi needed that push from their friends to open up.. Though arnav had not revealed much to maya, I think lavanya and maya understood the longing and are praying for their happiness…
    They got the needed momentum from their friends especially kushi, and I’m sure they will keep up this…
    waiting eagerly for kushi to land in Delhi and want to see the two little munchkin bonding..
    Can’t wait to read the next update mira..

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Life began to feel better for us also. Since I read all forty chapter earlier I know Meera a little bit and by far she is an intriguing character . Her bond with Arnav is an unusual one.She is trying to ensure her friend gets his share of happiness. Her positive nature is so irresistible that even Nani welcomed her presence in Arnav’s life after divorce.
    Our Protagonists are in an unsure phase of their life,trying to decipher the strong emotion that lingers yet after a gap of 13 years. Flirt-texting is topnotch writerjee. Hum e bhi shikh na hai.

    Ruchi’s Shakespere wala comment to Sone pe suhaga.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Awesome update
    They both are saying it meant nothing but they both knew themselves that’s it’s not the fact…. if that’s the fact then the 4days and 4 nights would have never left such a impact on them that even after 13 years they find difficulty to talk about it…..
    I just loved Maya….she is a good person and her friendship with Arnav is so good to see…her curiosity regarding the messages is so adorable….. Finally Arnav received khushi’s messages and he it literally made his day….oops his night…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I just love La n Maya as both urge Arnav n Khushi to go down the memory lane…
    They spent a very short span of time with each other yet they r unable to get over it ..
    It was never meant nothing as they weakly claim it to be..
    Arnav talks about Mira so lovingly..
    Khushi asks about gift choice for Mohan..
    They takes interest instantly in each other’s kid..

    Arnav’s wait for Khushi’s reply n Khushi’s hesitation to reply .. n then starts texting when La asks her to do.. All this brought a big smile to my face..

    I m looking forward to Khushi’s visit to Delhi..
    Arnav will be receiving them on the airport..
    n the dinner ..
    😀

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I absolute loved the friendship between Lavanya and Khushi and Arnav and maya. They have flavors of friendship we all find indispensable.

    Lavanya can bring out the feelings Khushi is hiding and feel content with her smile when she decides to text Arnav. Maya can’t stop herself from checking on Arnav. They are both adorable isn’t it.

    Thank goodness my questions a few atleast got some insight through this chapter. How did Lavanya not know what transpired back then?

    Khushi’s feeling today probably connects to 13 years back on how Arnav and her friendship evolved. She is guilty but ready to see what this new friendship brings.

    Arnav probably is feeling lot more anxious after meeting Khushi and he has unsaid feelings about her.

    Their easy back forth texts seems effortless but we know how much they seem to think through it but their camaraderie in texting gives me a hope for their second chance. Not all is lost and they are willing to try and build a new friendship. I loved how Khushi feels about gifts and gives him no option to choose. You have lot of thoughtfulness you bring in your story writing. Just love the way it flows!

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Di I love you so very much 😘❤️

    I freaking love ❤️ and Enjoyed Every bit of this Chapter…..after re reading it 3 times, grinning ….. Putting my thoughts here 😊

    Literally, ARNAV & Maya have set an example Of TRUE Friendship ❤️
    The Bond of Friendship is truly so Strong ❤️
    I love this Lady – MAYA …… A Fun, loving, Supporting Soul. I’m really begin to like her so much.
    Enjoyed Arnav’s & MAYA banter 😆
    They teased, Make fun, supports & understands each other so we’ll – these 2 have my heart ❤️
    I will say this again, it’s Rare to find this level of Loving, warming friendship between two ex’-es …..& This thing Truly captures & warms my heart from within ❤️
    The BEAUTY OF YOUR WRITING ✍🏻 di 👏🏻
    The Past is not fully out yet ,
    We got some bits…….& My curious heart still pumping to know what has transpired between ARNAV & khushi’ 🧐
    Out with it di…..soon 😉
    Awww!! The way ARNAV was grinning seeing khushi’s message, their back to back texting game…. Damn ! My heart is fluttering with Happiness 😀❤️
    The happiness you are giving me through your Writings, is something so Precious that I know : words of Thank You won’t be enough Ever. I can’t do much, I’m genuinely going to keep you in my prayers di, You deserves all the Lov & happiness di 🤗
    Love you Hameshaa 😘💕

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Intezaar ka phal meeta hota hai – turned out to be true for me and arnav – I got a super duper uodate and our Arnav got the much awaited messages from khushi
    Lovely uodate MB
    Loved the rapport of maya and Arnav – very rare to find in real world – wish people are so understanding and loving –
    Iam eagerly waiting for Mira and Mohan to meet MB – I know it will happen soon but couldn’t stop myself from saying that
    Great going dear
    Will wait for the next update

    Liked by 1 person

  16. wow.. life is really beginning to be superb.. loved the message sharing between the three.. Maya is lovely.. she cares for Arnav so much.. a very good friend she is.. she can’t sleep without knowing about the name of the person.. the ball is again in Khushi’s court.. Amazing update.. loved it.. Thanks Mira ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know that this story is about second chances. The name says it all. But, I don’t think I quite realized just in how many ways it is a second chance for all those involved.
      It is a second chance at a relationship for Arnav and Khushi themselves, it is a second chance for them at renewing an old relationship that obviously meant a lot to both of them. A second shot at exploring something that they both had to put a hasty stop to for various reasons.
      But, it is also a second shot for Maya to let go of the guilt she must be experiencing since she obviously fell in love first(maybe while being married to Arnav?) It shows in her need to see him happily settled with someone. The friend in her must have tried hard to keep the relationship going. I am sure, it was Arnav who urged her to move on.
      It also is another shot for Lavanya and Akash to see their friend find happiness. How often we discount our best friends concern and love for us? How much it must bother Lavanya and Akash that Khushi is struggling alone when they are happy with their spouses and children. I know how hard it is…a friend of ours lost his wife quite unexpectedly and for a long time, we felt so guilty, celebrating anything. It was almost as though a pall of gloom had settled over our group. And it wasn’t even that he was one of our best friends…
      I think, this a momentous realization for me :). It’s just hit me 🙂
      I don’t remember whether I said so in the previous update, but, Maya and Arnav’s relationship is one for the books. One would assume that when friends turn spouses, the friendship will remain but would definitely get clouded by those other relationship feelings. The end of such a relationship would most often than not, mean a death knell for the friendship too. How utterly refreshing to see a friendship that not only survived the end of the relationship but by all accounts, seems to be thriving and then some! I loved Arnav and Maya’s banter and the affectionate indulgence through which Arnav seems to view Maya with.
      I am so happy Khushi texted Arnav. They have a lot to learn about each other. Am super excited and pumped for the events to unfold. 😘

      Liked by 6 people

  17. I used to re-read the chapters so many times while your previous blog was still open and every time I read it I could feel their loss, longing, excitement. And now that I am reading it again I feel all of their emotions again. You express their emotions so vividly that those very emotions are evoked in the reader’s heart as well. Hats off to you!
    I am loving the little extra touches, like “remembering the ‘sheet not proply, Papa’ of his son’s demand…”, you have inserted.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have started reading this story recently and am really enjoying the intriguing storyline. Each chapter brings with it its own nuances and curiosity. Eagerly waiting for the future chapters. And yes, love the idealism relationship between ASR and his ex- wife. Please continue soon

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Mirabell….what an emotional update…may be Arnav and Kushi did not realise the depth of their feelings when they were young….but now they are realising how much they feel for each other…but the surprising part is the easy friendship between Arnav and Maya…May be love failed but their friendship survived …but to continue the frienship without any bitterness one should have a big and an open heart… enjoying reading your story….It is so emotional and full of feelings…Eagerly waiting for the future episodes

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Mira… such a beautiful update and such heartfelt emotions you put across in each of your updates..

    Love reading this one and the wait for the next update would be like a sweet ache in my heart.. ❤

    Lots Of Love.. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Am here…
    Read the chapter… This is the first chapter, that registered new to me.. Though i knew the gist of it… Every line and the conversation felt new and a bit mkre enlightening while reading. I know you are re-writing and subtle or huge changes are possible.. But kudos to the writing which has stayed with me for so long.. And am sure this one too will be etched in.

    Awesome chapter…
    The parallel conversations of two people traversing the time quantum and going back to the point where it started, albeit talking about it now, to two friends.. For the first time revealing, probably even to themselves, how much ‘they’ (A &K) meant to each other.

    The fact that La doesnt push, makes Khushi, want to open up.. And want to take that step on her own. And La knows that its important.. For Khushi to accept and move forward to whatever is to come her way.. On her own.. And once she sees her doing that.. Taking that first step.. She knows that it will be fine.. Her friend will be fine 😊.

    The very opposite is true for Maya… Mrs MVS and her childlike curiosity and enthusiasm, pushes Arnav to face what he had suppressed within himself… Even the slip of asking Maya about why she hadnt mentioned it before! That instinctive urge to forget and not bother… push it all into a deep dark corner and forget about it… Slips up.. And with it slips in the revival of what was.. And his heart is open again!

    So here’s to La’s patience and Maya’s enthusiasm. 🥂

    The fondness with which he talks of Mira, and the the gentle giant he is with his son.. He is a dreamboat 😍

    Hats off once again dearie 🤗

    Ps: this summer saw me conducting crochet workshops.. And this being a new step for SaiASmi.. Got completely wrapped up in the preparation and stuff.. And summer hols ended.. So now finally i have time to sit down and catch up.. And what better way than to read the amazing stoeies, you gals tell ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I absolutely love the relationship Srnav has with his ex. What an emotional chapter. The emotions of Arshi are so deep. Wow you can actually feel it. Thank for a well written story thus far.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I like the way you make us want to know what was it between Khushi and Arnav all those years ago. All both are saying they met and spent some time together and went their separate ways like that was all but obviously there is more to their encounter all those years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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